Karen Jacobs has heard plenty of stories about Glorious Pictures and Phil and Tony Waxman, the notorious twin brothers who co-founded the film studio and now run it with four iron fists. For the last twenty years, their mix of edgy films and take-no-prisoners deal making had earned the company hundreds of awards, billions of dollars, and a singular reputation as an incredibly tough place to work. But when she is off e red a job there, Karen doesnt hesitate, knowing that if any place proved that the sky was the limit, Glorious was it. She finds herself with an all-access pass to the tantrums, whims, follies, neuroses, and unimaginable egos of the celebrities who star in Glorious films, which come as no surprise. It's the absolute insanity inside the company that knocks her for a loop. Armed with tenacity, ambition and wit, Karen learns that what it takes to make it in the civilized world may have no bearing in the Glorious one. Extremely competitive and cutthroat, the Glorious executives continuously search for ways to outdo, outscheme, and outmaneuver each other in their attempts to impress the Waxmans.
In the best-selling tradition of The Devil Wears Prada, real-life movie publicist Rachel Pine's razor-sharp satire, The Twins of TriBeCa perfectly captures the behind-the-scenes machinations of the film industry in all its glory. Savvy readers may even recognize a boldfaced name or two amidst the hilarious exploits of this high-spirited junior publicist.
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Read an Excerpt
THE TWINS OF TRIBECA
By RACHEL PINE
HYPERIONCopyright © 2005 Rachel Pine
All right reserved.
It was the shove that got me thinking. This was no just-passing-by accidental bump-it was a swift and vicious push clearly meant to get me out of the way. More interesting than the shove, though, was its source: a ponytailed action star who was supposedly some kind of lama incarnate. I must have been blocking his path to enlightenment, because when I politely told him that he had more guests than we could accommodate, his only response was to hit and run. One quick shove and I was gone, all five feet of me, reeling backward in my heels as he dashed down the red carpet with his gang. Only the obscene thickness of that carpet kept me vertical; otherwise, I would have landed on my butt. Still recovering from my brush with greatness, I heard my earpiece squeal.
"Karen, Jesus, what are you doing up there? He's got too many people-why did you let them in?" It was Vivian Henry, the executive vice president of publicity at Glorious Pictures. Not my boss, directly, but one of the twenty-five or so people who had attained a position in the Glorious hierarchy that entitled them to yell at me.
"Vivian, I tried. He just shoved me and they all ran past!" I said.
"Forget it. Forget it. You're useless," she snapped. "I'll take care of it on my end."
I turned and peered at the entrance. Vivian was "taking care of it" by enthusiastically ushering my assailant and his flock inside. He tossed off a dismissive wave in my direction with one of his gigantic hands before ducking through the mosquito net covering the doorway. My heart still pounding from the shock of the encounter, I tried to slow down my pulse to its normal rate and concentrate on greeting the other, less violent celebrity guests as they arrived at our gala. After an arduous Oscar campaign-ordered by Phil and Tony Waxman, the fraternal twin brothers who'd founded Glorious Pictures, and carried out by everyone who worked at the company-we'd achieved our goal: The Foreign Pilot had won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
The Foreign Pilot had all the ingredients of a Glorious Pictures legend from the start. Rescued from the trash heap of a major studio, it starred marvelously talented (though previously unknown) European actors and had been adapted from a novel by a literary genius who'd escaped his country's brutally oppressive regime with the manuscript stuffed inside his shoes. As Phil had said nearly a year earlier in a meeting with the entire publicity department, "If that's not enough of a story for you people to work with, you might as well shoot yourselves in the head." This was Phil's characteristically subtle way of letting his staff know that The Foreign Pilot had better be a big picture. A Best Picture. Or else. That meeting took place about nine months before my arrival at Glorious, but it had been recounted by my colleagues so often and in such detail that I felt as if I'd actually been there. By the time I started in the publicity department in February, saying the place was exceptionally tense would have won Best Understatement.
And so I'd stumbled like a toddler on unsteady legs into a world of bleary midnights and head-splitting sunrises spent in the service of The Foreign Pilot's corps. We'd made thousands of phone calls to Academy members, cheerily asking them if they'd enjoyed The Foreign Pilot. We'd dialed until our fingers cramped. We'd stayed up all night to reach voters in every single time zone. We'd manned those phones with the fervor of televangelists offering Heaven for just three easy payments. How skilled the leading actor's performance! How deft the direction! How breathtaking the scenery! The score! The costumes! We'd brayed our praises at the members who deigned to take our calls and then, because so many of them were elderly and hard of hearing, we'd brayed even louder. We'd raeticulously executed a brilliant awards campaign that mimicked the tactical plans of the nation's finest political strategists. (We knew this to be true because when the president's congratulatory telegram arrived at the party, he told us so himself.) Now it was ten o'clock, the ceremonies were over, the Glorious party was in full swing, and we were awaiting the arrival of our victorious leaders.
In L.A. for five days and awake for most of the past three, I'd helped to mount our assault from the elegant confines of the Four Seasons, and my experience of Hollywood so far had proved both glamorous and humiliating. My room was beautiful but I hadn't had time to enjoy its amenities, most noticeably the multipillowed, elegantly duveted chariot of sleep for which this hotel was famous. For the right price, those beds could be shipped directly to one's home, high-thread-count shams and all, and rumor had it they were responsible for more than a few celebrity spawn. Now, as I choked down a room-service breakfast, I eyed mine wistfully, noticing that I'd barely made a dent in the dainty white coverlet during my three-hour snooze after our all-night party-logistics meeting. My Frosted Flakes had arrived with all the pomp and circumstance of a grand feast, surrounded by silver bowls of berries, yogurt, and bananas, but I had no time to contemplate the views from the flower-bedecked balcony on which the table had been set-I had an eight o'clock appointment at the Glorious hair and makeup suite. Lapping up the last drops of sweetened milk and taking a few gulps from my third cup of coffee, I grabbed my loaned designer gown and headed down to the second floor.
I stepped inside and immediately felt a hand on my back. The hand belonged to Marlene MacFarlane, the senior vice president of publicity, who had been placed in charge of the department's "look" for the event. She propelled me toward the hairdressers' room, noting, "Your hair will certainly be the most labor-intensive." There was no denying that most of the time my hair defied all styling products and betrayed a casual disregard for the laws of gravity. Still, this remark stung coming from Marlene, who wore her usual unflattering pageboy, although she'd stuck on some kind of glittery headband in deference to the day. I was seated in a salon chair specially installed for the occasion, while two stylists tag-teamed me. Gradually, I saw a glossy light brown mane evolving in the mirror. Glancing from side to side, trying not to move my head, I could see that we were all becoming shinier, sharper, more polished versions of ourselves: it was like that scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and her fellow travelers get spruced up before they go to meet the wizard.
Next up was the dressmaker, who pinned and basted and then swapped me a robe for my gown, so that she could make the needed alterations. While I waited for the dress, a makeup artist applied multiple layers of cosmetics to my face. "Now; I gif you new undervear," the seamstress said, in a vaguely Baltic accent. She handed me two paper ovals that looked alarmingly like mailing labels, right down to their peel-off backings. Seeing my confusion, she said, "It ees the bra. You steeck it on. Panties you leaf here." After maneuvering the stickers into place, taking care to create some cleavage, I stepped into the gown, marveling at its perfect fit and lack of distracting lines. I might be a little chilly tonight, but it would be worth it. She put a tiny vial of liquid in my hand. "For later. Eet dissolves zee glue." I tucked it into my evening bag.
Looking in the mirror again, I barely recognized myself. My hair gleamed, my skin looked bronzed and healthy, I had a curvy figure, and everything about me glowed, sparkled, shone, or did these things in combination. I felt like I was starring in the E! True Hollywood Story of my own life, the good part, where the narrator's voice would contain just a hint of warning as to the downfall sure to follow the commercial. For now, I turned slowly, submitting myself to Marlene's inspection, so that she could decide if I had achieved a sufficiently glamorous faux finish. After receiving her begrudging approval-"You're as good as you're ever going to get"-I dashed over to the Hotel Modigliani to begin rehearsing for my role as VIP doorstopper.
My actual boss, Allegra Orecchi, president of publicity for Glorious Pictures, was standing on the curb in front of the hotel, clipboard in hand, looking impatiently imperious-which was how I believed her face had frozen many years earlier.
"Sorry I'm late. My alterations took a while," I said, self-consciously running a hand through my now-luxuriant length of hair.
"Line!" Allegra whispered fiercely, by way of a salutation. The previous day, Allegra had suddenly developed serious doubts about my ability to greet the evening's guests.
I snapped to attention. "Welcome, Big Star. Thank you for coming." This was my single line, no ad-libbing allowed. I'd been reciting it over and over, trying out different inflections, cadences, and volumes, but nothing worked for Allegra.
"No, Karen, that's still not it," she frowned. "You need to accentuate the 'you.' You're thanking each person for coming. These are some of the most famous people in the world and you're representing Glorious," she said, as if training me in the Method. Trying to arrange my expression into the proper blend of politeness mixed with awe, I tried again.
"Welcome, Big Star. Thank you for coming."
She tilted her head and sighed. "No, no, that's still wrong." Allegra's cell phone rang and she stepped away, as if to prevent me from overhearing her conversation. This was merely a symbolic gesture; Allegra was generally inaudible even when standing uncomfortably close. I stood and waited for her to return, unpleasantly aware that the straps of my sandals were already beginning to pinch my insteps. She finished the call, spun around, and frowned. "You were supposed to keep practicing, Karen. Just because I'm on the phone doesn't mean that I'm not still working with you. I really don't feel like you're trying."
While in charge of a party for two thousand and supervising a staff of forty full-time publicity staffers and twenty freelancers, Allegra had curiously fixated on her invention of my inability to say seven words. The pressure was excruciating. Now she was inviting other people to add their comments. She had me rehearse a few more times and then brought over Matt Vincent, the vice chairman of marketing. Matt ranked just a hair above Allegra in the Glorious hierarchy and she was always turning handsprings in her attempts to impress him. Most of the time he ignored her.
"Welcome, Matt Vincent. Thank you for coming."
Matt was one of the people I liked best at the company. He seemed to have weathered six years of Glorious drama with his sense of humor intact. Just a few days before we'd flown out for the Oscars he'd climbed up on a milk crate in our TriBeCa office and delivered a hilarious rendition of Tony's acceptance speech, flawlessly imitating the raspy Bronx growl we all feared. For the last forty-eight hours, however, he'd been run ragged, putting together a tremendous ad campaign touting The Foreign Pilot's Oscar win as well as a contingency plan should the unthinkable happen. Harassed and sleep-deprived, he looked like a different person. Now he listened to the line, looked at me distractedly, and said, "Well, there's no one else we can stick out here, so I guess she'll have to do." Then he left to get dressed for the evening.
Dissatisfied that I hadn't received a negative review from anyone else, Allegra couldn't restrain herself from one last mumbled barb before she left me. "Karen, don't move your hands when you greet people. They might think you're trying to touch them." Finally alone, I marveled at Allegra's ability to make me feel insufficiently welcoming yet intrusive at the same time. I reminded myself that Matt and Allegra had a way of bringing out the worst in each other. There was a lot riding on tonight's awards, not the least of which was their jobs. Post-Oscar housecleaning was not uncommon in the industry, and Glorious was no exception.
It was just after one in the afternoon, and while guests wouldn't be arriving for the viewing for about three hours, I had to hold my post in case anyone showed up early. The viewing party, where guests would watch the awards on a huge screen in the hotel's ballroom, was for people who hadn't been invited to the actual awards ceremony, like the author of The Foreign Pilot. (The Oscars are about screenplays, not novels.) The rest of the crowd would be mostly Glorious "friends and family"-industry executives and stars on the decline. They would need to be directed to the regular, non-VIP entrance. The viewing party was going to be small, but we described it as "intimate." The actual Oscar party would be enormous, and Glorious had rented the hotel's entire lobby, its three restaurants, the pool area with its two outside bars, as well as a penthouse suite on the fifteenth floor to serve as a VVIP room.
Behind me, a construction crew put the final touches on the red carpet entrance. It had been designed to look as if a biplane had crashed into the building, with just half the cockpit, the tail, and a piece of wing jutting out. The huge lobby doors had been replaced by large swaths of mosquito netting, and tremendous potted palms were being rolled into place to line the walkways. From where I was stationed I could hear Marlene barking orders at florists, bartenders, hotel employees, and anyone else who she thought might not be up to his or her given task, which was everyone. Several men unloaded tables and chairs from a truck and one of them offered me a seat, which I gratefully accepted.
At two-thirty Dagney Bloom, who made up the other half of Allegra's assistant team, arrived with Robert Kojima and Clark Garland, two of our colleagues from the New York office. Dagney was in a terrible mood. In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, she'd lobbied nonstop for an "inside" position. "That way, I'll get to see everything," she'd told me authoritatively at the desk we shared in New York. Marlene, who didn't really care for any of us but liked Dagney even less, had acquiesced to her repeated requests by awarding her the job of VIP elevator operator. Dagney would spend the entire evening in a tiny service lift, shuttling only the most "V of the VIP's" to and from the penthouse suite. "I can't believe that I'm going to be in that shoebox for six hours!" she hissed at me.
"At least you'll see all the stars up close," I replied coolly. I was still annoyed at Dagney for skipping off yesterday to shop on Melrose, leaving me at Allegra's beck and call for eight interminable hours while I covered for her. She and I got along about as well as could be expected for two people who shared both a crowded desk and a boss who was maddeningly vague about what she wanted from us.
As Robert handed me my headset and showed me how it worked, six delivery men arrived with the red carpet and began to painstakingly unspool it behind us. Seconds after they finished, Marlene materialized by my side and interrupted Robert's instructions. "Karen, why didn't you call me when the carpet arrived?"
"The guys just got out and unrolled it."
"Can't you see that it's all wrong?"
Clark, Robert, Dagney, and I all stared down the carpet's length. It stretched out like a wide red ribbon from where we were standing and ended right at the entrance. None of us said a word.
Marlene shook her head and frowned, as if I was trying her patience. She tapped one of the carpet deliverymen on the shoulder and began shouting, and soon the entire crew was struggling to drag fifty yards of red carpet an inch and a half to the left.
"As I was saying," Robert said, "this little part fits right in your ear and then you adjust this microphone so that it's not too close to your mouth. All of us with 'outside' jobs will be on channel three tonight." He and Clark got wired up and then we tested to make sure we could hear one another.
Twenty minutes later, Marlene came back up, looked at the carpet critically, then nodded. "That's much better. At least people will know where they're going," she said, before striding off to torture a hapless caterer.
Excerpted from THE TWINS OF TRIBECA by RACHEL PINE Copyright © 2005 by Rachel Pine. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
"A perfect beach read that'll have you laughing with disbelief at
what studio publicists go through to make you see their movies. "
author of The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This started off very slowly for me and I feared it might be another of those books that I have to force myself to finish, but thankfully it picked up somewhere around the middle. It reminds me a lot of The Devil Wears Prada, but is nowhere near as...captivating, I think. I'm easily entertained and thought it was fun to figure out which movies/actors she was referring to, though sometimes it was really obvious. It could've started out stronger, but overall it wasn't bad.
Eeeeh. A very thinly veiled story of how awful it must be to work for the Weinstein brothers at Miramax, by an ex-exployee.
Like The Devil Wears Prada and Because She Can, The Twins of Tribeca tells the story of a young, optimistic and naive young woman taking a job in a notoriously difficult environment because she is certain (a) the stories are exaggerated, and (b) the experience will be worth it. This light book obviously tracks working for the Weinstein brothers at Miramax, and is an enjoyable enough read especially anyone interested in or involved with the movie industry.For me, the narrative never reached the levels of The Devil Wears Prada, and the drama was much less dramatic (which is a positive for the poor narrator if not for the reader). Still, this book was nowhere near as satisfyingly evil as other offerings in the genre, and left me feeling a little flat. A decent plane or beach read, The Twins of Tribeca doesn't live up to its hype, but is well-written enough to rate three stars.
Don't get me wrong- I love an easy, non-thinking, juicy, gossip-filled book just like everyone else. But I honestly had to ask- what is the point of this book? I couldn't tell if Karen liked her awful job, if there even was a story between her and the gossip columnist, or if I even cared. I found it hard to finish and when I did- I learned nothing.
This book had way too much explaining going on in my opinion. Everything that happened had several pages of detail to go along with it and it got very tedious. Towards the end of the book I just started skimming so that I could be finished already. There were really good parts, and the ending was wrapped up very quickly. But it wasn't a favorite of mine, even though I was really looking forward to reading it. I also thought it was funny figuring out who the characters were in real life. Robert De Niro and Billy Bob Thornoton were the easiest to pick out.
This is an incredible book! I read it a couple weeks ago and am still thinking about it and quoting it daily! I'm even missing it and considering reading it again. Honestly a must read for anyone in the business world or anyone who will be pursuing a career in Public Relations. Also a great read for the celebrity gurus out there! What a great read, I can't wait for more from this author!
This novel is a breath of fresh air for those of us toiling in the trenches while our bosses take us for granted, all the while stealing our credit, livelihood and glory. Sure, it's a hysterically scathing and wonderfully cockeyed take on the movie business a la Miramax Films, and I can't believe the marvelous Rachel Pine isn't being sued left and right and front and center by at least some of the dozen or so major celebrities and power players she skewers with the exacto precision of an upper west side plastic surgeon. Movie fans, star gazers, industry grazers and pop culture junkies alike will LOVE this novel. But this novel is also about what it takes to build a career and get ahead. 12 hour days, nasty and insecure bosses, horrid coworkers and crazy situations all with the twinkle of Hollywood in its eyes. Yes--it's safe to say that the recipe for Twins of Tribeca is one part Working Girl, one part 9 to 5, stir in Devil Wears Prada, a pinch of Nanny Diaries, sprinkle in the brilliance of Carrie Fisher and ENJOY. I know you will.
The most interesting part of the book is trying to figure out who the author is really referring to. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen with the main character. Yes, we see that being a publicist is hard work. But all she does is go to work. No personal life, no one else has a personal life and it gets rather tiresome to hear how spoiled movie stars act. There was no real interesting gossip- just spoiled people acting mean to other spoiled people. In one word- boring.
Many might consider 'The Twins of Tribeca' to be chick-lit. If so, it's a chick with attitude, one who's decided it's payback time. Author Pine spent 3 ½ years at Miramax Studios - her heroine, Karen, is thrilled to accept a job at Glorious Studios headed by Phil and Tony Waxman. Now, even the most casual of book skimmers will quickly note that Phil and Tony are intended as swift undercuts to Bob and Harvey Weinstein. There's not even a even a quick swipe with a concealer to disguise who they are. The same goes for other celebs and moguls. For instance, Billy Bob Thornton appears as Jimmy-Joe Hawthorne. Part of the fun in reading is in figuring out who the characters represent and then being glad you've never met any of them. Pine's descriptions don't sketch, they skewer and scathe. Upon beginning her job as a publicity assistant at Glorious, Karen soon discovers that there are 25 people entitled to scream at her, the gal she shares her office with is manipulative and mean, her boss would give Vampira the shudders. Her days are sixteen hours long, press junkets are killers, and she has to constantly watch her back. On the other hand, there's much to chuckle about in 'Twins' as Pine reveals the eccentricities (a kind word) of the stars. It's a quick paced summer read spiced with oceans of gossip and an insider's slant on what red carpet treatment really means. - Gail Cooke
Really, this book is GREAT--a lot of fun for anybody that loves the movies, the stars, New York City, etc, and it's all 'real,' though names have been changed to protect the hysterically insane. It's all about what goes on in the movies--behind the scenes--the stars who are bonkers (it's a BLAST figuring out who's who but they're all biggies), the craziness of the publicists, the egos of the producers and one young woman who's trying to make sense of it all. When was the last time you read something where you were literally laughing out loud??! Twins of Tribeca is witty, very smart and I didn't want to put it down. In short, it's the BEST book I've read in a long time and I know everybody will be talking about it this summer!